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Puerto Rico small inn owners submit ideas to get gov’t to protect sector

The Puerto Rico Small Inn Owners and Tourism Association submitted a letter to the government with 14 ideas to protect employees and the small and mid-sized businesses that comprise the industry.

The Association’s top two recommendations are aimed at improving services at the government unemployment office to protect displaced employees by ensuring that the Puerto Rico Labor Department has unemployment funds available and adds enough flexibility to quickly provide services to all displaced employees.

In addition, they must automate or seek alternative methods so that beneficiaries can electronically submit the additional information required to apply, obtain and keep their unemployment benefits, the association said.

The recommendations seek for different government agencies to “protect and look out for” several aspects of the current health crisis from different angles.

“We’re definitely supporting all the preventive measures that are being taken to control the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus and the island’s condition,” said Association President Jesús Ramos. 

“At the same time, we have to develop adequate and viable measures, so that our people obtain the minimum income they need to survive this crisis,” he said. “For these purposes, we submitted 14 specific measures to several members of the executive and legislative branches, to address the economic situation in the short and medium term.”

The suggestions address five different areas related to protecting the sector’s estimated 80,000 jobs in the mostly small- to mid-sized operations included in that tourism sector. Many of them were still recovering from the damage inflicted by the back-to-back hurricanes in 2017 and the most recent earthquakes and aftershocks that hit the southwestern region in late December, said Tomás Ramírez, vice president of the trade organization.

“This situation is much more complex and dangerous than all the emergencies that we have experienced in recent times, and if it’s not adequately addressed on multiple fronts, in a few weeks it could turn into a major socioeconomic crisis,” he said, noting each tourism region focuses on specific activities, such as eco- and agritourism.

The list of suggestions also includes: establishing tax payment moratoriums for small businesses as well as deferments on commercial mortgage and loan payments; measures to stimulate internal and external tourism; and, setting up an emergency fund for municipalities.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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